Comfort Food

According to Wikipedia, the term comfort food refers to a variety of familiar, simple foods  that are usually home-cooked or eaten at informal restaurants.  Comfort food is typically inexpensive, uncomplicated, and easy to prepare.  Many people turn to comfort food for familiarity, emotional security, or as a special reward.

Comfort also is one of the keys to a successful M&A advisor or investment banker relationship for owner-managed companies in the middle market.  For most of these business owners, the sale of their company is a large, one-time, emotionally packed event.  Consequently they are going to spend an awful lot of time with their advisor, both in person and on the telephone.   The transaction process, materials, go-to-market plan, personal style, communications, advice and integrity must resonate make the business owner feel comfortable and emotionally secure.  Like sitting at the dinner table eating macaroni and cheese with family.

There are a lot of individual decisions to get a transaction closed, and the advisor should not expect a client to blindly follow every recommendation.  But if the client consistently feels their advisor is too fast or too slow, too worried about little details or not worried enough, too sloppy or too anal, too introverted or too extraverted, under- or over-communicating, barking up the wrong trees, or the criteria underlying the advisor’s recommendations is just off base, the resulting frustrations cannot be overcome by any level of industry expertise or fabulous rolodex.  When the advisor is in another city and face-to-face contact is infrequent, the resulting discomfort can be a maddening experience.

An advisor’s experience, commitment and character do make a difference.  If the decision to choose one advisor v. another is a very close call, pick the one that makes you most comfortable.

— David Bass



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